A column by Senator Terry Moulton
Tuesday, January 3rd marked the first day of the 103rd Wisconsin Legislature and I had the privilege of being present as new and returning Senate colleagues were sworn into office.
With elections behind us and the inauguration over, legislators from across the state are geared up and ready to take on the challenges facing us in the State Capitol.
The start of a new legislative session in Madison always begins with a wave of new and returning bill ideas. Proposals cover everything from healthcare and taxes to transportation and education with a whole lot in between. In fact, during the previous two-year session, 1,830 bills were introduced and 392 of those were signed into law. Of those that became law, you might be surprised to learn that more than 90% were bipartisan, receiving support from legislators on both sides of the aisle. As new bills come before me in the Senate, I am always interested to learn your views. If you have opinions about a proposal, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I rely on the thoughts of people like you, who may be impacted by the changes in state law these proposals bring.
One of the biggest tasks for legislators over the next few months will be putting together the 2017-2019 state budget. Although Wisconsin is a medium-sized state, our budget is a $72 billion document that doesn’t just balance state finances, but also lays out our priorities and goals for the state by allocating limited resources. Over the past few budget cycles, we worked hard to balance our books and turn budget deficits into a surpluses. We’ve grown our rainy day fund and state finances are in better shape than they’ve been in decades, all while curbing the growth of property taxes, freezing university tuition and cutting state income taxes.
While all of those things are important, there is a lot more work to be done. This budget will be a challenging one, as we try to stabilize the transportation fund for the long term, invest more in education, continue improving Wisconsin’s business climate and ensure that our government is operating in an efficient and cost-effective way. Governor Walker will give his budget address in February, laying out his priorities for the state and highlighting key areas of investment. At that time, the budget will come before legislators for several months of review and change before likely being signed into law this summer.
As a State Senator, I am always happy to help you work with state agencies you may come into contact with when getting a permit, obtaining aid, or registering for a state program. To help you keep in touch, follow my work in Madison on your behalf, and navigate state government more easily, I’m proud to announce the launch of my new legislative website, SenatorMoulton.com. At the new site you’ll find information about legislation I’m authoring, as well as press releases, e-updates, and services my office can provide. You can also sign up to track legislation that interests you and keep up-to-date on the latest legislative news affecting the 23rd Senate District. It’s an honor to serve as your state senator and I look forward to hearing from you online and around the district!